This post was updated on August 31st, 2018
Our cycling adventure has come to an end. The Stena Saga takes us back to Oslo, where what felt like months ago, but in actuality was just a few mere weeks, this cycling adventure started. But Solo has another few days to stay with me in Oslo before he is returning home to Tennessee. So we will spend some time exploring the city.
On the ferry, we met a young man who is going to cycle around southern Norway, in parts following our route to Bergen. He told us he had planned to spend as little as 400 NOK during his bike ride, will he make it? But then, maybe he had food for his journey in his pannier bags? And with wild camping allowed in most areas, it might be possible. After all, people thought my plan with this adventure was crazy, yet here we are, we made it.
My first obstacle came with our arrival in Oslo. What would we eat for dinner? I didn’t have anything left in the fridge–if I had it would have been rotten by now anyway. I didn’t fancy going to the grocery store right after arrival. So Solo came up with a dish, rice with tomato sauce suitable for every diet you might ever plan, but yeah, it will do the trick for us now too.
The second obstacle is the surprising hot summer weather in Oslo. 30˚C and the forecast is not telling when it will get any cooler.
We are not cycling back to my place. Not only did we cycle a lot during this tour, but there is a hill ending the 8km long climb from the harbor which I am dreading to do with a packed bike. Instead, we are taking the bus so there will only be very few clicks to ride from the bus stop before we can enjoy the comfort of my place again.
Sightseeing in Oslo
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Today we are going to meet a mutual friend, Alfred, whom we both met for the first time in New Zealand. Alfred is starting his guided cycling holiday with a sightseeing tour in Oslo. He was able to untie himself from his group for a few hours so that we can meet up and see the city together. Solo and I will be meeting up with him at the Color Line ferry terminal and then start our sightseeing tour from there by foot.
One of the unusual sights for me on our way to Akershus festning (the fortress of Akershus) is armed police. In Scandinavia, it is unusual that the police are wearing weapons. The weapons will be with them, in the trunk of the car, if they responding to an incident. But to use them they would need special permission. So seeing the police armed on the pier of Akershus is a surprise to me. Something more serious must be going on. Solo had not seen a single police car during our ride in Norway. He told me later he had been wondering if the police were necessary for Scandinavia at all.
On our walk along the Oslo Fjord and then up toward the fortress we find the second statue of Theodore Roosevelt since Copenhagen. Parts of the Royal family stayed with the Roosevelts in exile during WWII. Of course if it had not been for these allies during the war the end might as well have been an entirely different one.
We spend some time enjoying the view from the hill of Akershus festning before we continue to what I know as the entry. Only to find the entrance closed, a sign tells us to use the main entrance, but I have no clue where that is. I am surprised by this, something rather serious must be going on. There is no sign of any construction work, that would explain the closure. With armed police in town, it makes me wonder what happened while I was riding my bike in Denmark. But for now, we have to change our plans. We do not have the time, with the few hours Alfred has to spend with us, to search for the other entrance to the fortress. So instead we choose to take the ferry over to Bygdøy, also known as the Museum Island.
In the 1200s Haakon V. gave the peninsula as a morning gift to Queen Eufemia. Their daughter Ingebjørg later returned it to its former owners, the Cistercian’s cloister of Hovedøya. In 1537 it shifted owners again and became a property of Akershus Castle as a consequence of the reformation. Some of the properties on the peninsula were sold to private people. The main farm, Hovedgården or Bygdøy kongsgård, remained in the ownership of the crown. Around 1900 the cultivation of Bygdøy accelerated. Plans were made for Bydgøy to become an island of villas and several museums.
Upon arrival at Bygdøy, after a 20minute ride on the ferry, we decide to visit the Kon-Tiki Museum. The privately owned museum was built after Thor Heyerdahl’s first adventurous expedition on a balsa wood fleet from Peru to the Easter Islands. Thor Heyerdahl (*1914, †2002) is probably the best-known scientist and adventurer of Norway. With this first expedition, he tried to show that the Easter Islands could have been discovered by the South American Indians. Research has since proven that the Easter Islands were settled by the Polynesians. But South American Indians did come over after the first settlement was established.
Later well-known adventures of Thor Heyerdahl include the Ra I and Ra II sailings on papyrus fleets from Africa to America, and the Tigris sailing from Iraq to Djibouti.
Years ago I read the books of Thor Heyerdahl about his expeditions on these balsa fleets. Visiting the museum with its models of the fleets and a replica of a cave from the Easter Islands makes these books more vivid again.
With his adventurous research expeditions, Thor Heyerdahl became one of the first experimental archeologists.
I would like a few more visits to this museum to take it all in. But of course today we do not have the time for this, I will have to come back later. Until then I will re-read the books of Thor Heyerdahl’s adventures…I think I owned a Biography of Thor Heyerdahl; it must be somewhere…
Far too soon we have to leave the museum to get something to drink before we have to say goodbye to Alfred. He leaves us now to go on his own cycling tour in Norway.
But then, Bydgøy has more museums to go to, and our next visit is to the Fram Museum. Fram is a wooden vessel, commissioned and used by Fridtjof Nansen in his expeditions. Later Roald Amundsen borrowed it on his journey to the South Pole. The museum is built around the Fram and is dedicated to the polar expeditions of the late 1800s and early 1900s and those who pursued these adventures.
What makes the Fram Museum interesting to me is that I can have a walk around on the Fram. I am looking into the tiny cabins in which the crew lived for years together. Today you would complain if any overnight ferry would offer you only this little space for a single person. Back then they shared the space and lived in these cabins for months. I am having a look at the scientific equipment that Nansen and his crew used during their first expedition. Equipment that was state of the art back then.
The ship is built for the sole purpose to help gather scientific research material. There is no room for comfort.
The museum also exhibits some of the clothes and skis of Nansen that he used during his expeditions. I never thought about it before, but those clothes are not made of high-tech functional material like Gore-Tex, but fur and leather. Those skis are not by modern standards either. These are wooden ski with leather rim bindings and about a centimeter (1/2.59 inch) thick. I am trying to imagine how much weight the clothes and ski would have added. Thinking Nansen and Johansen then would have to drag sleds and kayaks behind them too. Again heavier than what our modern world would be able to offer. Not to mention there were no prepared tracks where they were going. The visit of the museum makes it much easier to relate to what an accomplishment was, for these men, to finish those expeditions. I would not have had a chance to make it through one of these expeditions. Not back then and not now.
Again time is passing too fast. We need to get back to my place to get some dinner, as a matter of fact, we need to buy some food on the way too.
Tomorrow we are going to spend in my shaded and cool spot in the garage to give some much-needed care to our bikes. So our exploration of Oslo and its sights will continue on Friday.